I’m learning that there is a broad spectrum of opinion regarding self publishing within the industry. Traditionally, self published authors were perhaps considered to be writers who were unable or unwilling to sell their manuscript to traditional publishing houses nor to gain representation from an agent. However, along came Kindle Direct Publishing via Createspace and now a plethora of self pub companies and suddenly it was much easier and cheaper to self pub. Writers who feared rejection could now see their book for sale at minimal or no cost to themselves without facing the dreaded slush pile.
What if an author has self published and now wishes to traditionally publish? Conferences such as WDC14 comprise many industry experts extolling the virtues of hybrid publishing – the merger of trad and self published books or a combination of the two. Such conferences will shout loud and clear the message that there is no longer stigma attached to authors/books who have chosen to self pub. However, does this reflect within the industry itself? Do agents and editors practice what is now preached?
While one can see the potential viewpoint of an agent: your book has already gone to market and is therefore unattractive to trad publishers, let’s delve a little deeper and think about this. If a writer can demonstrate marketability and demand for his/her book then should it be dismissed by agents/editors? If it’s saturated the market then the answer is probably yes – where can it go next? However, if the writer has dipped their toe in the water and their work has been well received with evident scope to further develop and sell then why wouldn’t an agent or editor be interested? After all, the risk is less if the book has been proven to have a market keen to buy it. The self published writer has most likely demonstrated an ability to build a social platform and enthusiasm toward promoting their book. They have established an audience and when one considers the expense and risk to publishing houses of taking on a new author, a successfully self published author has already proven their book sells.
Hybrid publishing seems to be the way forward. Traditional publishers and agents can cherry pick the books that they wish to acquire/represent while the author can retain digital rights perhaps (although eBooks are increasingly becoming the bread and butter of the book world) or in any case, negotiate and work in partnership together so that all parties benefit from a mutually rewarding opportunity.
So … it really shouldn’t be ‘them and us’ trad Vs self, in my opinion. If a book has legs, let it run!